The Best running routes in the Peak District & Derbyshire

Although you might initially think the Peaks are too hilly for running (as did I, at first!), there’s actually a wide range of great running routes in the Peak District and Derbyshire. These include routes for all abilities, and they are all complete with picture-perfect views of the stunning natural landscape.

I’m no runner myself, much more of a big hiker, so this post is brought to you buy the lovely Jose Walbank.

So, if you’ve done enough hiking to last a lifetime, or are looking for a different activity to add to your outdoorsy holiday itinerary, keep reading!

Below, I’ve listed 4 of my favourite running routes around the Peak District and Derbyshire, including a range of different terrain types and distance lengths.

Tips for running in the Peak District

But, before you lace your shoes and sprint out the door, here are a few key tips for running in the Peak District:

  1. Keep people updated – if you’re running in remote areas, be sure to let someone know where you’re going and a rough time for when they can expect you back. Many areas around the Peak District (including ones that don’t look that rural) may not get phone signal. So, letting people know your plans will help ensure you’re keeping safe.
  2. Don’t depend on shops – equally, many of these routes won’t take you near a shop or cafe. So, be sure to bring water and snacks with you.
  3. Familiarise yourself with your route – another important point to consider (also caused by the potential lack of signal) is that you can’t depend on Google Maps for help! So before you go, have a good read through the route, and take screenshots of the directions, so that you can save them to your camera roll.
  4. Consider your shoes – depending on the route you pick, you might find that your standard running shoes don’t cut the mustard. If you are planning on running in the Peak District, it might be worth investing in some specialist trail shoes. Or (if you’re not sure whether you want to commit to trail running just yet!) pick a route that is largely tarmacked, such as the Tissington trail. I recommend the fabulous Run Forest Fun shop for all your hiking, running shoe needs!
  5. Check the gradient – before you commit to a particular route, take a look at its gradient. There might be some unexpected steep areas or large hills that you’ll have to navigate. After all, it is the Peak District! You’ll need to make sure your route aligns with your ability, and that you feel able to tackle any major hills that it includes.

The best running routes in the Peak District & Derbyshire

1. Ladybower Reservoir

Without a doubt, Ladybower Reservoir is one of the most magnificent, breath-taking spots in the Peak District. Located in the Upper Derwent Valley, the reservoir is characterised by its majestic bridge, and impressive ‘plug hole’ structure.

Then, in addition to the vast body of water, there’s also a wealth of surrounding countryside, woodland and moorland.

As a result, there’s a wide variety of different potential running routes around Ladybower, ranging from flat 5kms, to intense 50km+ trail runs.

The team at Komoot have created a fantastic resource, detailing 5 of their top running routes around Ladybower Reservoir. Although these are more focused on the longer running routes, I’d definitely recommend checking out their Ladybower running guide.

Need a treat after your run, check out my top dog friendly pubs in the Peak District.

Best running routes in the Peak District and Derbyshire
four favourite running routes in the Peak District

2. Carsington Water

Sticking with the reservoir theme, Carsington Water is another stunning running spot.

However, I’d say Carsington Water is a better fit for beginner runners. So, if you’re keen to try trail runs, but want to keep your distance to less than 15km, then this is a great choice.

Carsington Water offers a number of great routes and trails, but the main one is a simple circular around the water. This is about 12-13km long, and the route is extremely clear and heavily signposted. Although it is only tarmacked for a small portion, the terrain isn’t too rocky or muddy. However, it’s definitely a hilly route, so be wary!

Or for a shorter route, you can do laps up and down the reservoir path, which takes you along the rocky dam boundary of Carsington. This offers mesmerising views of the water on one side, and rolling green hills on the other.

Then, once the circular is completed, you can get a coffee and cake (or something more substantial!) at Carsington’s cafe.

four favourite running routes in the Peak District

3. Matlock to Rowsley Cycle Path

If you’re staying around the Matlock or Rowsley area, and you’re looking for a laid back, easy route, the cycle path will tick all the boxes.

This path runs alongside the old railway tracks. Although the traditional Derwent Valley Line is still in use, it’s certainly not the busy city commuter service (as the former Midland Railway) that it used to be! But, while you’re going along the path, you might still get to see a steam train travelling alongside you!

The path was recently built for walkers, runners and cyclists (as an alternative to the busy main road). It’s extremely flat and even, and (because of its height) boasts fantastic views of the surrounding countryside. You can join the path at multiple points, and it ends at Matlock at one end, and Rowsley at the other.

Feeling hungry after your run? I’ve got you covered with The Best Places to eat and drink in Matlock.

four favourite running routes in the Peak District
four favourite running routes in the Peak District
four favourite running routes in the Peak District

4. Graves Park

Located to the south of Sheffield, Graves Park is one of the biggest parks in the area. Although it doesn’t have the same rugged beauty as you’d get running along Curbar and Calver Edges (another beautiful run, but definitely one for trail shoes!), this is a dependably tarmacked, relatively flat route.

One lap around Graves Park is around 2.5km, so you can keep going for as many laps as you fancy! Along that route, you’ll go past the park’s boating lake, and tour the grounds of Norton Hall.

Then, when you’re finished, there’s a great little cafe near the car park, which is the perfect spot to treat yourself to a coffee and a slab of cake. 

We hope you enjoyed our selection of our best running routes in the Peak District & Derbyshire. It may be hilly, but we promise that the views will be worth it!

If you’ve got any other routes that you think we missed, let us know! Share your recommendations on the She Gets Around Instagram page.

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